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Defense plays big as NC State tops Miami, 20-6

It seems your Cristobal ain’t so crystal clear, Miami.

Miami v NC State Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

Remember when we were wondering if this team was going to get bowl eligible? Ha ha, yeah, me neither.

The Wolfpack is officially bowl bound, and Dave Doeren is officially the winningest coach in NC State football history, as the Pack weathered another lackluster offensive effort to take down Miami, and did so without sweating all that much in the end.

That was all due to the defense, which stepped up big to deny the Hurricanes on multiple scoring opportunities. The defense stopped Miami inside the 10 and made the Canes settle for a field goal in the second quarter, and then, after an MJ Morris fumble set Miami up in prime territory, Aydan White picked off a pass in the end zone to erase that threat.

Suffice it to say that was a huge sequence—if the Hurricanes get a touchdown there, it may end up an entirely different game.

Morris threw a pick on State’s next possession—he wasn’t at his best tonight—but the defense turned right around and forced a fumble, which led to a field goal.

In the third quarter, the teams traded three-and-outs so many times that technicians were forced to unplug the game and plug it back in again.

Miami again found itself inside the State 10 early in the fourth quarter, only to get stuffed on a fourth down run, preserving State’s tenuous 10-6 advantage. Then the offense put together one of its clutchiest drives of the season, and it began with a huge third down conversion inside its own 10—the first first down of the second half for the Pack.

Brennan Armstrong had a big run, and Kendrick Raphael finished the possession off with an even bigger one, spinning off a shoddy tackle attempt by a Miami safety and scampering home for a decisive 31-yard score. It was the first touchdown of his career, and there was no better time.

Miami had five minutes to try and mount a rally, but Tyler Van Dyke was picked on each of the U’s last two possessions. NC State did a great job harassing Van Dyke all night—he turned the ball over four times while completing just 55.3% of his passes and averaging a meager 4.6 yards per attempt. Both numbers are season lows. (Also, he’s now thrown 10 picks over his last four games, which, yikes.)

Just a hell of a job by NC State’s defense to come through with big play after big play to prevent Miami from establishing any real momentum.

Great effort, big win. Wasn’t pretty, but it counts just the same.